Peaceful Assembly

On 10th September 2022 a protest of the "Free Together" initiative was organised in front of the headquarters of the HDZ party in Zagreb. Under the slogan "We are firing you", the protesters demanded the resignation of the Croatian government and early elections, and also called for an amendment to the electoral law. They also expressed their dissatisfaction with the latest case of gas price fraud where it is estimated that INA (the Croatian multinational oil company) suffered damages of more than 135 million euros, as well as with the increase in food and energy prices.

Women journalists Maja Sever and Božena Matijević were verbally attacked by one of the protesters, after which the Croatian Association of Journalists published a reaction and submitted a report to the police. The police detained five people at the protest, including a minor against whom the police filed a criminal complaint. The minor was found with, amongst other things, a knife, several glass bottles filled with a flammable liquid, and an improvised device with nails, and was placed in one-month detention while awaiting judgment. The organiser of the protest claimed that the incident with the minor happened only after the protest had officially ended. The Workers’ Front initiative also organised a protest against the HDZ party on 30th September 2022 in Zagreb.

On 16th September, a few dozen people protested in support of Marko Francišković who is in pre-trial detention on a criminal charge of inciting terrorism. Demanding his release, they protested as the Zagreb County Court remanded him in detention. According to the indictment, Francišković is accused of having participated in unannounced public protests against COVID-19 measures, and calling on citizens through videos published on social networks to mobilise and attack the physical integrity of members of the ruling state structures, occupy public buildings and use other violent methods to remove the Croatian government. Six people were detained at the protest.

On 24th September 2022, the initiative of young Croatian doctors organised a protest in front of the Ministry of Health under the slogan "Let's cure health together". The young doctors, who organised themselves through social media, are asking for the reform of the health system and specialist training, negotiations on the working rights of doctors, as well as changes to the financial regulations.

Other smaller protests also took place, such as protest action in solidarity with the women of Iran, which took place in front of the embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Zagreb, and a protest by kindergarten educators demanding better working conditions. 

Expression

The Croatian Journalists' Association (HND) presented models for financing local media based on transparent public financing, which Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomašević and Split Mayor Ivica Puljak said were acceptable and potentially applicable. HND leadership said that transparent public financing was necessary for the long-term independent functioning of local media and for ensuring stable conditions for journalistic work in the public interest. They underscored the need for such public financing but under clear conditions and criteria and with an assessment by an independent expert committee.

On 3rd October 2022, HND sent a petition signed by 4,695 people to Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, which requested an independent investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Index.hr journalist Vladimir Matijanić and the dismissal of Health Minister Vili Beroš. HND President Hrvoje Zovko, in his address to Prime Minister Plenković, emphasised that Minister Beroš behaved extremely unprofessionally by covering up the case since the first day.

The HND strongly condemned the statements made by the head coach of NK Osijek, Nenad Bjelica, towards the Osijek sports journalists who follow that club. Journalists have been the target of his inappropriate communication on several occasions. HND also condemned the insults and death threats directed at Marcello Rosanda, journalist of Glas Istra, due to an article published on the platform.

Positive developments

In a positive development, in September 2022 Ivan Lovrinčević was conditionally sentenced to six months in prison with a probationary period of one year for an attack on the N1 TV cameraman, which happened at Easter 2020 in Sirobuja. After only one hearing, the judge handed down the verdict, finding Lovrinčević guilty of committing a criminal offence against public order. This is the first conviction that was handed down under the new Criminal Code for the act of coercion against a person who performs public interest work.

On 6th October 2022, the Municipal State Attorney's Office brought an indictment before the Municipal Court in Zadar against the defendant Marko Lisica for the criminal act of threatening Toni Perinić, a journalist of the Zadarski list, because of his journalistic work. Perinić wrote about a case of tourist scams by a landlady in Privlaka, after which the apartment in question was sealed.